Dawn

Reporters fail to link Chinese couple killed in Pakistan with huge missionary enterprise

Reporters fail to link Chinese couple killed in Pakistan with huge missionary enterprise

It seemed like a rote international news story: ISIS kills a Chinese couple in northwest Pakistan, one of the most dangerous areas in the world for a non-Muslim.

Then came the Reuters story with an unlikely claim: ISIS was saying the murdered pair were “preachers.”

It was then that I realized these might have been no ordinary Chinese expatriates. They were possibly part of one of the most ambitious missionary enterprises in 2,000 years of Christianity plotted by none other than Chinese Christians. First, the story:

Pakistan identified on Monday two Chinese nationals recently abducted and killed by the Islamic State and, in a new twist, said the two were preachers who had posed as business people to enter the country.
The interior ministry named the two as Lee Zing Yang, 24, and Meng Li Si, 26, and said their violation of visa rules had contributed to their abductions. Previously officials said they were Chinese-language teachers.
The two were abducted by armed men pretending to be policemen on May 24 in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan province. Last week, Islamic State's Amaq news agency said its members had killed them.
"Instead of engaging in any business activity, they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning (the) Urdu language from a Korean national ... were actually engaged in preaching," the ministry said in a statement.

Interesting word, "posed."

Of course, they could have been involved in business projects AND in efforts to work with and support local Christians. They could have been, to use the Christian term, "tentmakers" who had legitimate business skills and interests, as well as a commitment to spreading Christianity.

Anyway, I checked with Dawn, the English-language Pakistani daily, about these murders, but the newspaper only said the pair were Chinese language instructors. What reporters obviously don’t realize –- but somehow ISIS did –- was that these weren’t just any instructors.

It is quite possible they were part of a Chinese initiative called the “Back to Jerusalem” movement.

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Making mass murder personal: The Pakistani newspaper Dawn finds a way with '144 Stories'

Making mass murder personal: The Pakistani newspaper Dawn finds a way with '144 Stories'

In the midst of humdrum life here and entranced as we were by Lady Gaga’s stirring rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the opening of the Super Bowl, we often forget how the other half lives many time zones away.

A recent piece in the Los Angeles Times reminded us of a place where schools are a death trap and the martyrs tend to be in their teens.

What Malala Yousafzai went through in 2012 is something other kids are still living through. Every now and then, this madness makes headlines.

On Jan. 20, the Taliban did a raid at a university in Charsadda, northwest Pakistan, that left 21 people, mostly students, dead. It’s hard to imagine the depth of insanity that propels grown men to mow down defenseless girls and boys, but that’s life today in that tense, often splintered, Islamic republic.

The Times reminded us that the security crisis in Pakistan is not going away and how schools and universities are “soft targets” for the Taliban, which strikes at will.

So, how do you keep reporting on a place where massacre follows massacre?

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